The search for love can be long and daunting in this modern age when the abundance of options, thanks to the likes of Tinder, has made lasting relationships harder to come by.
People no longer go through a long romantic courtship to decide whether they want to get into a serious relationship heading towards marriage.
Instead, quick drink dates and situationships have become the norm; people could spend months and even years together and still wonder “What are we?” and if they aren’t feeling it, they can just “ghost”, i.e. dropping off the face of the planet.
Let’s be frank. It’s tough out there. If you’re a single person trying to find a proper relationship where you have an official title, meet your partner’s friends and family, and build a future together, you’ll likely experience disappointment, frustration, fear, and even hopelessness.
But don’t beat yourself up.
First, you’re not alone. There are many others who are in the same situation as you are. Your struggles aren’t unique to you. It’s unwise to take them personally.
Secondly, you’re exactly where you need to be. And this place you’re in isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it might even be good for you.
How? Here are 12 things to remember when dating doesn’t seem to work out in your favour:
1. Dating is a number game
There are 7.5 billion people in the world. Out of this figure, there are likely only a handful of people who are compatible with you.
If you’re lucky, you might have met your partner early on in life. If not, like many others, you will have to go through a number of failed relationships before finding one that works.
And that’s absolutely normal. You’re actually doing it right by meeting many people and having many failed relationships as it’s how you learn more about yourself and assess what’s out there.
Ending a wrong relationship means you’re one step closer to the love of your life.
2. A relationship’s outcome depends largely on chemistry and compatibility. Inherent worth is irrelevant
When your relationships don’t work out, it’s easy to blame yourself and think something is wrong with you. But a relationship’s outcome is neither about you as an individual or your self-worth.
You might be the best person on this planet and your relationship could still fail because your partner wants to live in the city while you want to live in the suburb, or they can’t keep their hands off you but it only takes you one look to know there isn’t any sexual attraction.
See, it’s a matter of compatibility and chemistry. It is not just you, it’s also them.
Your relationships ended doesn’t mean you failed.
It’s the opposite: Your relationships ended because they didn’t work for you and you deserve one that does. Heck, you’re worthy of a great relationship that works exactly right for you.
3. There’s more to life than romantic relationships
Romance and coupledom have been hyped up since the dawn of time. It’s inevitable that single people feel the pressure to get into a relationship and think their singleness is a failure.
But that couldn’t be more wrong.
Romantic relationship is only one thing out of so many things in life that could bring you meaning and fulfilment. Likewise, romantic love isn’t the only love out there.
It’s counterproductive to obsess about the one thing that happens to flop for the time being and discount everything else that’s going well in your life.
Even if romance is absolutely not an option, you could still have a quality life full of love and satisfaction. It’s about doing what’s best for you, not what society thinks is best for you.
(Spoiler: Society doesn’t know you or care about you).
4. There’s more to you than your relationship status
Similarly to the above point, there are so many wonderful things to you besides being someone’s romantic partner. For example, your kindness, your courage, your passion, your commitment to being a good person, a good son or daughter, a good friend, and so on.
You’re not defined by your relationship status. Your worth is not determined by your romantic life which is largely out of your control.
If the weight of romantic relationships not working out feels too heavy, just put it aside altogether. You don’t have to bear it at all as long as you shift your thinking away from romantic relationships and onto many other life-enriching things that are worthwhile just the same — if not more.
Drop your shoulder and live your life as you please. You’re still wholly you.
5. Relationships that work don’t end
When a relationship ends, it means it doesn’t work for you and your long-term goals. It’s pointless to second guess yourself or wish the outcome would be different just for the sake of having a relationship.
The outcome is exactly what it should be. And it’s exactly what dating is about. You meet people, you assess your compatibility with each other, you decide whether this relationship is for you short or long-term.
So instead of thinking “What’s wrong with me? Why do my relationships keep failing?”, think “it was a good experience and I’m glad I tried and found out that it wasn’t for me.”
People often think a relationship doesn’t end at the altar means it’s a waste of time. But every relationship is an experience that has its own worth.
While it can be a waste of time for a specific goal (e.g. dating someone who isn’t looking for a serious relationship while you want to get married), it’s not a waste of time when it comes to savouring the moments of life.
Regardless of the outcome, the good times spent were still good. “I love you” was still meant every time it was spoken. For a while, you weren’t feeling lonely and you were hopeful about love, and it’s precious.
Nothing was wasted as long as your heart was full; the fact that the experience was only temporary is simply the inevitable nature of life. Things change, people change, things that work one minute might not work the next. There’s nothing you can do.
7. It only takes one relationship that works to make the search worthwhile
All your past relationships might not have worked out and you might have to experience deep pain every time one ends. But it’s all worth it the moment you stumble upon one that lasts.
And you only need one. One relationship. One person. You don’t need two or ten; only one. This one experience can make up for everything that happened to you, every time things didn’t go your way.
It will make sense to you why you have to go through so many failed relationships and, perhaps, only by going through that many failed relationships will you be able to manifest your dream one.
8. Being single is better than being in a bad relationship
You might want to be in denial and keep your relationship going because you’re scared of being alone, but being single is 100% better than being in a bad relationship.
A bad relationship is costly. It doesn’t only take away your present happiness, hinders you from bettering yourself and living your dream life, but it also impacts negatively on your well-being and self-esteem on a daily basis, which could require years of therapy to work through.
Meanwhile, being single allows you to be your full self, have complete freedom over your daily schedule, and work on yourself however you see fit. It also means you’re not exposed to any sorts of abuse that could leave you unfortunate long-term consequences.
You might hate your single status but the alternative could be way worse.
9. Connections are supposed to be rare
If your relationships repeatedly fall apart, you might feel disheartened and even bitter, but good relationships are supposed to be rare and that’s why they’re so valuable.
Think about it — what makes a relationship work? Two people need to have chemistry and compatibility on social, emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual, habitual levels. They also have to share life goals and want similar things at the same stage of life — among many other things.
There are so many criteria — big and small, profound and trivial — that if you meet someone and it works for decades, it’s almost a matter of luck.
The truth is most relationships don’t work out. When you look for one that sticks, it’s supposed to be hard.
10. Every relationship is an invaluable opportunity to learn about yourself and grow into your best self
Without the failed relationships, you wouldn’t have become the person you are today, you wouldn’t have discovered the mystery of your own inner working, you wouldn’t have learned many essential skills that make a healthy, happy life possible.
And if you hadn’t known what you know today, you would have still made the same mistakes, chosen the same people, gone through the same relationships, and had the same outcomes.
In a way, those struggling relationships were a reflection of where you were in your own journey. They were inevitable. They were the answers you didn’t know you needed. They give meaning and depth to your goals and all the good things that come your way thereafter.
11. It takes courage to admit things aren’t working and start over again
It’s not easy to keep trying and failing and yet still trying. It’s incredibly strong and courageous of you to put yourself out there even when it’s your own precious heart on the line.
No matter how many times you hear the dreaded words “no” and “but”, no matter how many excuses you are given, no matter how many breakups you have to go through, you remain hopeful and loving. How do you even do that?
It’s clear that your heart is bursting, your soul is singing, and you’re more than alive. It’s what being human is about.
12. You don’t have to date if you don’t want to
If you’re too tired of relationships not working out, you don’t have to put yourself out there. You don’t have to be strong and courageous. You can just be you, do your things, enjoy life for what it is right now.
You’re allowed to be single and happy. You can take a break from dating for however long you want. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It’s a choice for you to make just because.
Maybe right now is not the time for you to be in a relationship. Maybe now is the time for you to be with yourself. You owe it to yourself to do what’s best for you and stand up for your own decisions.